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JBP - Stop Kidding Yourself!

If I had a dollar for every time JBP (Joint Business Planning) was mentioned in my career I’d be on a beach somewhere, sipping an endless stream of cocktails.  “The answer to working with customers successfully is to have a JBP”.



If I had a dollar for every time I saw a fully delivered JBP I’d be drinking tea at the diner.


And if I had a dollar for every time a JBP wasn’t delivering, and both parties worked together to implement corrective action, I’d have died of thirst years ago.


The concept is great – two parties have to work together, and know intellectually that working together will probably deliver the best results so they plan jointly, agreeing targets and actions that will get them both where they need to be.


The reality, in my experience of working with many companies, is usually different.


When the market, brand and retailer is growing it works fine; because the wind is in your sales (sic).  When times are tough you would think the JBP helps alignment and focus to overcome challenges.  But what happens is the opposite.  One party blames the other, demands the benefits without results, and threatens.  Very collaborative.


Why?  Lack of trust.  Which is due to lack of honesty up front.  And over-competitiveness when business gets hard.

So what to do?


Be Honest Up Front


Ask yourself what type of relationship you have. Not what you aspire to. If you have strong trust at multiple levels, then open up and negotiate a set of targets and actions that will deliver your goals.

If you look in the mirror and decide that there is a way to go, recognize this with the other party.  And if they refuse to be honest then you will have your answer about how open you can be.

If you are in a transactional relationship then call your plans whatever you want: they aren’t what most people want a JBP to be.  Which isn’t a problem.  As long as your plans deliver, that’s great.


Plan for Your Relationship


With trust you can be more open and ambitious.  You know that misses will be worked on together.


Without it you will want to factor in contingent rewards and penalties.  Make sure both parties are clear that these will be implemented and respect this.

Review Process

I’ve seen ‘partners’ present only the good stuff in reviews.  Talk about the ‘green’ areas and gloss over the ‘red’.  Problems get bigger as no one wants to address them with the boss present.


Work out a format and attendance list that will enable an honest review, or what’s the point?  The data are facts, which don’t change, so rather than throwing blame around spend your time finding answers.  And talk about how reviews will work from the beginning.

Summing Up

JBP’s are great, and can take many forms, but they aren’t magic. Having one doesn’t guarantee success, so use them like any other good plan: create one that is appropriate for the relationship and both businesses.  Be honest and realistic when building it, not hoping for the best as ‘Hope is Not a Plan’.  Regularly review the situation: it is what it is, and only your actions can alter the outcome.

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